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Starting Birth Control

Starting Birth Control Pills After Pregnancy

If you are not breastfeeding, you can usually start combination contraceptives (those that contain estrogen and progestin) two to three weeks after giving birth.
Although ovulation normally does not occur for at least four weeks after childbirth, there is a chance that it may happen sooner. Therefore, if you absolutely do not want to get pregnant, you might want to consider using another method of birth control. Progestin-only contraceptive products (those that only contain progestin) are one choice, as they can be started immediately after childbirth.
If you are breastfeeding, you can usually start combination birth control pills six weeks after delivery. Combination contraceptives may decrease milk production, so they may be best avoided unless you are supplementing your breast milk (for example, giving your baby breast milk and formula). If you absolutely do not want to get pregnant, you might want to consider another method of birth control during this time.
Progestin-only oral contraceptives do not affect breast milk production, and are often recommended for women who are breastfeeding.
However, progestin-only contraceptive pills are less effective than combined contraceptives, especially if not taken at the same time every day. As soon as you stop breastfeeding, it may be a good idea to ask your healthcare provider about switching to a combined contraceptive product.
If you recently had a miscarriage or abortion, birth control pills can be started right away. There is no need to wait.

Starting the Birth Control Patch

The birth control patch is a hormone skin patch used to prevent pregnancy. It is applied to the skin and changed after one week. Your options for starting the birth control patch are the same as those for starting birth control pills -- Sunday start, day 1 start, and immediate start. The same requirements for backup birth control also apply.
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD
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